Sweet success for Stormers over Chiefs

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Stormers' South African fly-half Robert du Preez (C) scores a try during their Super Rugby match against the New Zealand Waikato Chiefs on April 8, 2017 in Cape Town

Western Stormers of South Africa put one of their darkest Super Rugby days behind them by beating Waikato Chiefs of New Zealand 34-26 Saturday in a Cape Town thriller.

Chiefs humiliated Stormers 60-21 in a quarter-final at Newlands stadium last season and this was the first meeting of the franchises since.

"We had not forgotten that thrashing," said Stormers skipper and flanker Siya Kolisi after receiving the man-of-the-match award.

"Conceding 60 points in a knockout match was a deeply embarrassing experience for all of us and we vowed not to let it happen again.

"Apart from a fantastic effort by all my team-mates, the noise of the crowd drove us on tonight.

"Chiefs played their part in a match that must have been wonderful to watch. Some of their rugby was truly beautiful."

Chiefs skipper and fly-half Aaron Cruden said: "I am proud of my guys for playing their part in a great game.

"They gave 100 percent effort right down to the wire as we sought to secure at least a bonus point from an epic contest."

After a thrilling first half in which the lead changed four times, the home side led 24-16 at half-time.

They stayed in front throughout an equally pulsating second half with a 35,000 crowd producing an electric atmosphere.

Chiefs pressed relentlessly in the closing minutes, seeking a score that would given them a losing bonus point, but Stormers defended magnificently.

The result confirmed Stormers as runaway leaders of the Africa 1 conference with 26 points, 17 ahead of fellow South Africans Central Cheetahs.

Chiefs stayed third in the New Zealand standings, two points behind leaders Canterbury Crusaders, but on course for a quarter-finals place.

The New Zealanders scored two superb tries in the opening half with winger Toni Pulu rounding off a length-of-the-field handling movement for the first.

Pulu also scored the second, dotting down in the corner after a wonderful break by full-back Damian McKenzie from deep in his half took him past numerous Stormers.

Stormers scored an equally brilliant try 12 minutes into the second half to build a 34-21 lead.

Winger Dillyn Leyds broke clear and when tackled, flung a long backpass that fullback SP Marais gathered to race over.

Loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Kolisi, fly-half Robert du Preez and Marais were Stormers try scorers and Du Preez kicked four conversions and Marais two penalties.

Pulu (2) and fellow winger James Lowe scored tries for Chiefs, Cruden slotted a conversion and two penalties and McKenzie a penalty.